I was born on the side of a mountain. We only had one car which Dad took to work, so we walked everywhere and climbing on the bluffs was a form of recreation. Walking on a trail comes naturally to me and I rarely watch my feet. My feet automatically find the easiest path and long ago I had to learn to be consciously careful about this or I would push Dene off into the rough when we were strolling about our property.
Not only is Dene a city girl who never stepped off a sidewalk in her life prior to our marriage, she had serious vision problems even before the surgeries began in 2005. She has no natural ability to walk a path. Always on our hikes, I get ahead and then wait for her, especially at a rough spot, to help her through. Since 2005, the problem has grown so that a 4 hour hike for me is 3 hours hiking and 1 hour waiting (at best). But, we still have fun and enjoy all the same things others do on a hike.
I suppose I could search a concordance and count all the times the Christian life is called a walk and add in all the references to a path or a way or some synonym, but you already know there are a lot. Some find the path fairly easy while others view the same part of the trail with trepidation and slowly and fearfully take each step. Shall the stronger just rush on ahead and leave the weaker ones behind? Or should their love overcome their desire to push onward and cause them to wait for and help the weak? Can the “natural” point out a view or a wonder while the handicapped leans on his shoulder for a moment’s respite? Can he not see that the trail he thinks is so easy now may up ahead become much harder for him in some way that the one who now struggles will find to be a highway? Their roles will be reversed.
Some hikers quit. It is too hot, too far, there are too many bugs, the trail is too difficult for my skill level, etc. In some cases, we simply must leave them and go on ahead. However, I suspect we take this option much sooner than we would in “real life.” Should I turn and Dene was not back there at all, how far would I search? Or would I shrug my shoulders and return to the campsite and fix supper for one? Should she become discouraged and sit down on a boulder, saying, “I quit!” how long would I linger and encourage and persuade? I once became a long term crutch when she twisted her ankle, and found an unmapped short-cut to a nearby road. Do we call out search and rescue or do we have difficulty remembering the names of all the people littering the trail behind us?
Love came to seek and save that which was lost. Love built a highway. Can we be pilgrims on His road and not love and reach out to fellow travelers? Let us determine to make their path smooth and to wait for them to set them forward on their journey.
Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down, and the palsied knees; and make straight paths for your feet, that that which is lame be not turned out of the way, but rather be healed. Hebrews 12:12-13